Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. (The Wizard of Oz)

Human beings are becoming dumber and dumber: a photographic argument

Some time ago I’ve come across this thought which seems to be Albert Einstein’s: ‘I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots’ (link). Two or three days afterwards, I’ve read about a study published this year by Gerald Crabtree, a Stanford University researcher, according to which humans are getting dumber and dumber with each generation (link to an extended newspaper article about this).

And then this good friend of mine offered me a very nice present, an Agfa Isolette V (from the Isolette series) (see photos taken with Isolette V). While surfing the internet for information and photos, the idea of humans becoming dumber and dumber with each generation came back to my mind: indeed, photography is an example.

To tell you why, let us make a simple comparison between two cameras. The first is the Agfa Isolette V (1950-1952). The second is the newer Nikon Coolpix L100 (production started in 2009). Both are intended as products to be used by a large category of people, so are not items for professional use. Both of them have/had more or less the same price (read under each photo why I am saying this). Here are the cameras I am comparing (double click on each photo to enlarge it):

Above: Nikon Coolpix L100 (production started in 2009; price: almost 300 $) [picture shot on 19 November 2012]

Above: Agfa Isolette V (made from 1950 to 1952; according to this Flickr discussion, its price translated in today’s money would be approximately similar with that of Nikon Coolpix L100, or even less). [picture shot on 19 November 2012]

So, what could strike someone at a first look? Both are dedicated to the same category of people (non-professionals) – however, Isolette V demands much more from its user than L100. Isolette V requires you to set the aperture, the shutter speed and the distance – while L100, well, doesn’t require anything – you just press the shutter and you have the picture. Even if the L100 user would love to set these parameters, he couldn’t do it, since everything is automatic. With this Nikon Coolpix you don’t need to understand photography: you just have to push the button. The same guy 60 years ago was required to understand some photographic notions – that is, to spend time and effort to learn how to take photos. Now you just have to press a button.

So yeah, I guess both Einstein and Crabtree are right: the generation of idiots proudly stands in front of our eyes.

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One response

  1. Pingback: My Budapest (42): The little house in Városliget (long-term project) | Andrei Stavilă's Photography

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